In World War 2 both my father-in-law and my grandfather served in New Guinea .

On 17 April 1942 Ernest (Peter) Young (1920 – 1988) was living in East St Kilda when he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF). He gave his age incorrectly  as 23 years and his date of birth, correctly, as July 8th 1920, but there is no correction or annotation on the Attestation form about the discrepancy. He gave his name as Peter, by which name he was always known. In January 1945 he signed a statutory declaration to correct his name to his baptismal name of Ernest.

Peter was first in camp at Caulfield then a few days later he was transferred to Watsonia.  He was assigned to the 37th Battalion.In October 1942 he was assigned to the 2/4 Dock Operating Company and then in April 1943 he transferred to the 6th Dock Operating Company and embarked on SS Taroona. The Taroona was a requisitioned Bass Strait ferry which transported Australian troops to New Guinea during World War 2.

Photograph in the collection of Peter Young.  Peter is second from the top right with his hat on back to front.  This picture is the collection of the Australian War Memorial ID 014807 and is captioned “1943-05-07. New Guinea. Milne Bay. An Allied vessel was hit during the 1943-04-14, Japanese raid on Milne Bay. Barges with stores from the damaged ship being brought to land. (Negative by N. Brown).”

Peter served as a stevedore with the 6th Dock Operating Company in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea.  After the Battle for Milne Bay during 1942, the allies established a base there in support of the counter-offensive along the northern coast of Papua and New Guinea.

Second World War propaganda poster issued by L H Q Cartographic Company, Australian Survey Corps featuring a topographical colour map of New Guinea and nearby islands. It shows the allied advances up to December 1943 from Milne Bay in the lower right corner to Madan in the top left corner. Red arrows indicate Australian advances on the ground while brown arrows indicate US advances. Positioned centre right to top right corner and to top left corner are a series of white arrows inscribed with details of significant stages in the allied advance. Australian War Memorial ARTV10223

My husband Greg recalls:

My father Peter seldom talked about the war. When he did he made a joke
of it: ‘The barrel of my rifle got so hot with shooting they had to run a hose on it’, and so on. I can remember him being serious only once. ‘We were unloading barges’, he said, ‘when the Japs came over and bombed the freighters out in the harbour. Some of our boys were killed.’ He didn’t say where, but this could easily have been at Milne Bay, an important transport forwarding base on the eastern tip of New Guinea. Dad was there for a while.

Dive bombers attacking, fire from an Oerlikon Object type  Painting; Maker  Adams, Dennis (Artist); Date made 1943. One of the three Oerlikon 20mm guns of HMAS Wagga in action against Japanese bombers at Milne Bay during daylight raids.
In a letter to Lieutenant Colonel John Treloar – Officer in Charge of the Military History Section and administrator of the official war art scheme – dated 2nd August 1943, Dennis Adams wrote about this painting: ‘It is painted in a staccato manner in an attempt to convey the feeling of vibration and heat and that sharp almost deafening repetition of fire. Australian War Memorial ART22824

Peter served until December 1945 and was discharged on 25 February 1946. In 1944 he married Marjorie Sullivan.  During the war he contracted malaria.

Sources: National Archives of Australia NAA: B883, VX147921 YOUNG PETER ERNEST : Service Number – VX147921 : Date of birth – 08 Jul 1920 : Place of birth – CARLTON VIC : Place of enlistment – FIELD : Next of Kin – YOUNG ELIZABETH (copy of file in the genealogical resources collection of Greg and Anne Young)

Note: Milne Bay is a large bay in Milne Bay Province, south-eastern Papua New Guinea, which is the independent state that comprises the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia.